Better outlook for Punchestowns at Cheltenham

Tagged under: 3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m 2 1/2f

Connections hope to have a clearer picture of Cheltenham Festival plans for Punchestowns after his return to Prestbury Park to contest Saturday’s Argento Chase with five other runners.

The eight-year-old finished second to Pride of Dulcote in the thick fog on his first run at Newbury last month and heads the betting market for 3 mile one-and-a-half furlong Grade 2 Chase for his second outing.

Nicky Henderson has his charge entered in three races at the Festival in March and has something to prove to connections after disappointing in last year’s Royal Sun Alliance Chase. The Ryanair Chase and Ladbrokes World Hurdle are possible targets but he could earn a place in the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup if lands the feature at Cheltenham today.

Owner Judy Wilson was happy with Punchestowns after her horses re-appearance and said: "We were very happy at Newbury - apart from the fact we couldn't see a thing. What a day to watch racing

"He'd been a long time off the course and he is quite a stuffy horse, so he'd definitely have wanted that run. The winner is a good horse and I think we were perhaps unlucky to come up against him on that particular day.

"Tatenen was third and he won last weekend, so the form is good. We'll keep our fingers crossed."

The opposition will be tough again on Saturday and will prove a good measure, four-time course winner Tidal Bay delievered an eye-catching finish when arriving late to finish a length and a quarter behind Imperial Commander to take second in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.

Howard Johnson has him entered for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival where he has previously lkand the Arkle Trophy in 2008 and last year’s Cleeve Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls is represented by The Tother One, having his first run since finishing fourth in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November and connection are hoping there is another big run in the ten-year-old.

Neptune Collonges, Madison Du Berlais and Taranis make up the rest of the six-runner field and connections of all horses must wait on a second inspection at 10.45am on Saturday to see if the meeting goes ahead.

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